What should have been a wonderful first summer weekend on the beach of Zandvoort has turned into a nightmare for many bathers. The police arrested two men who allegedly threatened bathers with a weapon, the local supermarket closed earlier all weekend due to looting and groups of young people allegedly sexually harassed young women.
The disturbances concentrated on the central boulevard of Zandvoort. Beach tent owner Niels Priester of Mango’s says that something has to change very quickly. “Otherwise the situation will become unsustainable.” Huig Molenaar of beach club Thalassa speaks of “anti-advertising for Zandvoort.” On Wednesday, the pavilion owners will discuss the situation with the municipality of Zandvoort.
Mirko Gerrits of the local political party ZEE (Zandvoort Echt Een) was on the beach both Saturday and Sunday. He sensed the unrest, shared it on Facebook and received a large number of reactions. “Most people confirmed my observations,” he says. “What I heard were stories about sexual harassment of female staff, quarrels and fights. You can’t escape the fact that something happens on such beautiful days. But looting a supermarket, for example, is very extreme.”
‘Minors sexually harassed’
When asked who the (young) men are who are causing the unrest on the beach and the boulevard, Gerrits keeps quiet. “The central boulevard area attracts young people who have to deal with social problems. They take them to the beach and you see that it has an effect. You hear that even minors are sexually harassed.”
“A large part of the problem stems from bastard behaviour. That must be tackled hard”
The disturbances in Zandvoort are not a new phenomenon. As early as 2011, fighting groups of young people from Haarlem and Amsterdam made the coastal town unsafe and has been since then it was more restless in the summer. But as it was last Saturday and Sunday, it was never before, says Gerrits. “Beach tent owners say it goes in waves. But, they emphasize, the wave movement continues to rise. Until it is no longer controllable.”
Yesterday, too, things went badly wrong on the Boulevard. The police arrested two men who allegedly walked around with a weapon. With this they would have threatened someone near the local Dirk van den Broek. After tips from two witnesses, the police combed the area, but were unable to find a (fire) weapon. Both men are suspected of threats.
The solution? Gerrits: “A large part of the problem stems from bastard behaviour. That must be tackled firmly. I know that the security triangle (police, municipality and judiciary) is working hard on it and I am aware that the police are understaffed, but there is more is needed and more action must be taken.”
“Anxious situation” supermarket staff
The Dirk van den Broek branch in the Burgemeester Engelbertsstraat in Zandvoort closed around 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, three hours and two hours before the usual closing time respectively. A spokesperson for the head office said this afternoon that it was not aware of the looting.
Staff spoke to a NH reporter this afternoon of ‘an anxious situation.’ It is not known whether there were security guards at the door at both times.
Response from the municipality of Zandvoort
A spokesman for the Zandvoort municipality says in a response that among the hundred thousand bathers who came to the seaside resort every day last weekend, ‘unfortunately there are always people you would rather not see here.’ The spokesperson says that all parties are working “closely and well” to prevent disturbances. Several scenarios are available for busy weekends. “Unfortunately, you can’t prevent this.”
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